Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The Freedom Ship
The story you are about to read is a historical fiction tale. Although this tale has played out many times through the course of history, this particular tale was written to allow a glimpse into the lives of many Europeans during the Victorian period.
The night stars gave way to the warmth of the morning sun. The rains from the night before left a sweet perfume of incense in the air. A little yellow cottage sat alone in the midst of a large meadow blossoming with pink and purple wild flowers. This was the home of George and Margaret Yoder.
When the first beams of sunlight to burst through the window, Margaret was awake. Quickly she dressed and was soon standing over the pot-belly stove heating the small breakfast she had prepared.
George weakly put on his long sleeve checkered shirt. His body was bent from years of hard work trying to grow a living from his exhausted farm. The pants he struggled to pull on were made from wool. Margaret had labored hard to finish them in time for a Christmas gift. His boots however, he had worn since their wedding day. They showed many years of patches, mending, and wear. “Titanic set to sail on April 8th. The world’s wealthiest people have booked tickets for the maiden crossing of the Atlantic!”
“Look at this!” she said. “This ship is unsinkable and nearly four city blocks long!”
With little admiration of the ship George replied,
“It’s a dangerous thing to say even God can’t do something.” George had heard all the talk of the new ship and how men believed that even God couldn’t sink the huge ship.
Margaret gazed at the picture of the steal leviathan. How she longed to see the beauty which lay inside the great ship, golden fixtures with silks and satins in every room.
Upon arriving in the village, the market was buzzing with the talk of war. Margaret was quick to get her things. The Kiser was, in her mind, a man not to be trusted. She had begun to hate living in Germany. She was now dreaming of going to America. If only she and George could escape before the Kiser brought war to their homeland. >
George was calm and always slow about shopping for feed, until Margaret told him what she had over heard. He changed his mind about purchasing feed and supplies for the farm and instead kept the money in his pocket. The Yoder’s had been waiting and saving money for years to try and make it to America. Now the time had come to make that trip. Before leaving the village that day, George quickly filled out the documents he would need to leave Germany and mailed them to Berlin.
Margaret was excited and also filled with worried anxiety on the way home. Leaving Germany… it just wasn’t real to her; could it be possible that she and George would finally be packing for the trip to American after all these years? The next day George sold everything the couple had except for a few meager personal belongings. The farm, the house, all of the livestock and the small amount of furniture they had acquired over time was now a small roll of bills tucked neatly into George’s pocket.
The traveling day finally arrived. The clothes were packed into a large leather bound suitcase. Two precious items Margaret packed for the journey was a leather Bible and inside the Bible a tattered newspaper picture of an American flag. Her father had given her the Bible many years ago at their wedding and it had been the books which the couple had lived be all that time. The picture of the American flag was a dream which she carried in her heart.
By now, George had the wagon hooked up and the horses fed before loading the few items. The money was still securely in his pocket and he was filled with a nervous excitement. It was a grueling trip to France and here George sold the horses and wagon for a few francs. This money would pay for the ferry across the English Channel and the rest of their trip to Southampton.
It seemed like a dream when they finally arrived and saw all of the ships sitting in the harbor. One of them would be their passport to freedom. George purchased tickets on a ship called the New York which was leaving in two days. However on the day that they were supposed to leave, they were met by an officer at the boarding dock who told them that the coal strike had caused a shortage and only the Titanic could sail that day. All of the passengers from the New York were already being transported to the Titanic. Margaret was astonished. She was going to travel on that beautiful ship after all! The marvelous ship would take her to the land of freedom.
At this news about the New York, George however, was met with an eerie feeling about the great ship. But the two didn’t have any choice. It was, take it, or leave it. And leaving it meant leaving the dream of a free land full of promise and hope. They must take it and sail on the Titanic.
As the two climbed the long ramp inside the third class corridors the music from the extravagant first class public rooms could faintly be heard floating down as they boarded the ship. On the stern deck, third class passengers waved farewell to England as it shrank into the horizon of that great ocean.
To learn more of what’s happens to the Yoder’s and the rest of the third class passengers aboard the Titanic come back next week to read the continued page.